The Advantages Of Returning To School

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There are many people who wish time travel were possible. Simply go back to a period of life that you want to redo and have the opportunity to make a change or do it completely differently.

Those who are stuck in unfulfilling jobs due to a lack of proper training or the right schooling may have particularly strong feelings on this subject. However, you don't need a time machine to rethink your career path and make a change. Simply going back to school can be the answer.

Today, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that more than half of all students enrolled in colleges and universities are "non-traditional students," or those who are 25 and older. These are senior citizens who weren't content with retirement and want to learn new skills. They are also men and women who raised children and want to further their careers now that the kids are out of the house.

Some non-traditional students are those seeking advanced degrees so they can apply for better positions. Others are in courses to change career fields.

Regardless of the reasons behind going back to school, the investment in education will help you reap rewards in the future.

Here are some advantages of returning to school:

  • Feeling fulfilled: Scoring well on tests, answering assignment questions correctly and being part of a classroom setting could provide a feeling of accomplishment. For seniors looking to pass the time or learn new skills, it can offer an escape from the daily routine. It can also be a way to meet new people and associate with all ages and types of people.
  • Greater job opportunity: Having an undergraduate or graduate degree gives you a better chance of advancement at work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people with a bachelor's degree earned nearly $51,206 in 2004 compared to high school graduates earning $27,915.
  • Happier home life: It's common knowledge that financial topics are often the cause of disputes in the household. Tight budgets and working paycheck-to-paycheck can put stress on even the healthiest relationships. Schooling will help you to eventually earn more and can provide the relief you need with finances. Also, a feeling of accomplishment can carry over to your relationships at home, giving you a reason to be a happier mom, dad or spouse.
  • Setting an example: Parents -- and grandparents -- who return to school or decide to further their education provide a winning example to their children that perseverance can equal success. Children may be more likely to want to follow in their parents' footsteps and value the importance of a good education.

If you are thinking about returning to school, community or state colleges can be the first avenues to investigate. Many offer special programs that cater to non-traditional students, including flexible hours and perhaps the chance to take classes via the Internet. Contact area schools to find out about incentive and scholarship opportunities.

Getting your feet wet

Gila Community College in Payson offers an opportunity to get your feet wet to those thinking about a return to school.

Summer classes start May 27 -- the last day to register is May 28. The cost is $55 for one credit hour; $110 for two to six credit hours.

On the GCC Payson campus this summer there will be a number of computer courses, from basic electronic keyboarding to troubleshooting and repair. A variety of art classes are scheduled, as are courses in English, math, science, education, health and physical education in which students can learn the basics of swimming, tennis, pilates and yoga.

Schedules are available at the administration offices of GCC in Payson, 201 N. Mud Springs Road or call (928) 468-8039.

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